The top part of the Search Console Performance Report provides multiple insights on how a website performs in search, including in search features like featured snippets. There are four search types that can be explored in the Performance Report: Web, Image, Video, and News. Search Console shows the web search type by default. Change which searches type is displayed by clicking the Search Type button. A menu pop-up will display allowing you to change which kind of search type to view. A useful feature is the ability to compare the performance of two search types within the graph. Four metrics are prominently displayed at the top of the Performance Report:
- Total Clicks.
- Total Impressions.
- Average CTR (click-through rate).
- Average position.
Impressions are the number of times a website appeared in the search results. If a user doesn’t have to click a link to see the URL, it counts as an impression. In addition, if a URL is ranked at the bottom of the page and the user doesn’t scroll to that section of the search results, it still counts as an impression. High impressions are great because it means that Google is showing the site in the search results.
The clicks metric shows how often users clicked from the search results to the website. A high number of clicks in addition to a high number of impressions is good. A low number of clicks and a high number of impressions is less good but not bad. It means that the site may need improvements to gain more traffic.
The average CTR is a percentage representing how often users clicked from the search results to the website. A low CTR means that something needs improvement to increase visits from the search results and a higher CTR means the site is performing well.
Average Position shows the average position in search results the website tends to appear in. An average in positions 1 to 10 is great. While an average position in the twenties (20 – 29) means that the site is appearing on page 2 or 3 of the search results. This isn’t too bad. It simply means that the site needs additional work to give it that extra boost into the top 10. Average positions lower than 30 could (in general) mean that the site may benefit from significant improvements. It could be that the site ranks for many keyword phrases that rank low and a few very good keywords that rank exceptionally high. It may be an indication of a content gap on the website, where the content that ranks for certain keywords isn’t strong enough and may need a dedicated page devoted to that keyword phrase to rank better.
Performance Report Dimensions
Scrolling down to the second part of the Performance page reveals several of what’s called Dimensions of a website’s performance data. There are 6 dimensions:
Shows the top search queries and the number of clicks and impressions associated with each keyword phrase.
Shows the top-performing web pages (plus clicks and impressions).
Top countries (plus clicks and impressions).
Shows the top devices, segmented into mobile, desktop, and tablet.
5. Search Appearance
This shows the different kinds of rich results that the site was displayed in. It also tells if Google displayed the site using Web Light results and video results, plus the associated clicks and impressions data. Web Light results are results that are optimized for very slow devices.
The dates tab organizes the clicks and impressions by date. The clicks and impressions can be sorted in descending or ascending order.
The keywords are displayed in the Queries as one of the dimensions of the Performance Report. The queries report shows the top 1,000 search queries that resulted in traffic. Some of those queries display low quantities of traffic because they are rare, what is known as long-tail traffic. Others are search queries that result from webpages that could need improvement, perhaps it could need more internal links, or it could be a sign that the keyword phrase deserves its own webpage. It is always a good idea to review the low-performing keywords because some of them may be quick wins that, when the issue is addressed, can result in significantly increased traffic.
Search Console offers a list of all links pointing to the website. However, it’s important to point out that the links report does not represent links that are helping the site rank. It simply reports all links pointing to the website. This means that the list includes links that are not helping the site rank. That explains why the report may show links that have a no follow link attribute on them. The Links report is accessible from the bottom of the left-hand menu. The Links report has two columns: External Links and Internal Links. External Links are the links from outside the website that points to the website and Internal Links are links that originate within the website and link to somewhere else within the website. The External links column has three reports:
- Top linked pages.
- Top linking sites.
- Top linking text.
The Internal Links report lists the Top Linked Pages. Each report (top linked pages, top linking sites, etc.) has a link to more results that can be clicked to view and expand the report for each type. Clicking a URL will change the report to display all the external domains that link to that one page. The report shows the domain of the external site but not the exact page that links to the site.
A sitemap is generally an XML file that is a list of URLs that helps search engines discover the webpages and other forms of content on a website. Sitemaps are especially helpful for large sites, sites that are difficult to crawl if the site has new content added on a frequent basis. Crawling and indexing are not guaranteed. Aspects like page quality, overall site quality, and links can have an impact on whether a site is crawled, and pages indexed. Sitemaps simply make it easy for search engines to discover those pages and that’s all. Creating a sitemap is easy because more are automatically generated by the CMS, plugins, or the website platform where the site is hosted. Some hosted website platforms generate a sitemap for every site hosted on its service and automatically update the sitemap when the website changes. Search Console offers a sitemap report and provides a way for publishers to upload a sitemap. To access this function, click on the link located on the left-side menu.
Search Console Page Experience Report
The page experience report offers data related to the user experience on the website relative to site speed. Search Console displays information on Core Web Vitals and Mobile Usability. This is a good starting place for getting an overall summary of site speed performance.
Rich Result Status Reports
Search Console offers feedback on rich results through the Performance Report. It’s one of the six dimensions listed below the graph that’s displayed at the top of the page, listed as Search Appearance. Selecting the Search Appearance tabs reveals clicks and impressions data for the different kinds of rich results shown in the search results. This report communicates how important rich results traffic is to the website and can help pinpoint the reason for specific website traffic trends. The Search Appearance report can help diagnose issues related to structured data. For example, a downturn in rich results traffic could be a signal that Google changed structured data requirements and that the structured data needs to be updated. It is a starting point for diagnosing a change in rich results traffic patterns.
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